"A More Approachable Paradox Title"
It's hard for a Paradox fan sometimes to step back and look at their hardcore RTS game library from an outsider's perspective. Their games such as Crusader Kings II and Sengoku are usually fully-detailed and layered tapestries of history, filled to the brim with complex strategy gameplay, from broad battling to personal deceit, politics, and historical drama. This is why those who take the time to venture into a Paradox strategy game and learn one become forever fans, while those whose cup of tea isn't marrying their daughters off to gain more tracts of land find themselves walking away. King Arthur II: The Role Playing Wargame, however, updates the previous installment for the better and lends more accessibility to itself enabling newcomers to approach the world of Paradox games without confusing or frustrating them.
The game puts you in a time after King Arthur has fallen from grace: the king lies sick and dying along with his lands. Britannia has become a shadowy, dark land near on the edge of complete apocolyptia, and it's your job to win it back. King Arthur II offers a campaign mode which takes story much more to heart than many past Paradox titles, and on some levels it succeeds. While it's nothing completely new, it will keep those seeking some substance to their strategy afloat. As they trudge through one epic RTS battle after the next.
The main objective of King Arthur II is mostly to build up Lore points, which will enable you to expand research and unit production. Crushing and conquering, eventually taking back the lands and locations needed, will give you these lore points you will desperately need, as progression is near impossible without unit advancement. Don't worry, there are plenty of different units to crush your enemies. King Arthur II offers such a large array of soldier types that you will never get tired of customizing your units. As you group your soldiers into units, those units will then result in formations; choosing these formations will be pivotal in winning battles. Add in a fairly streamlined magic system and plenty of flying beasties (dragons too!), and there will be plenty to think of when it's time for battle.
However, an interesting element is also the fact that certain text-based adventure elements are thrown in between these battles. Making the right decisions on the textual part of the game will also affect the story, your units, and everything else. Gaining new locations and items via these text quests will enable you to grow your army, thus making it stronger and enabling you to crush / conquer and gain more lore points to expand your army even further.
While hoarding lore points seems to be the focus, King Arthur II: The Role Playing Wargame adds in the ability to do quests to keep things interesting. Quests will take one knight of your choice into a series of battles or text adventures where eventually, if completed correctly, they will gain you powerful artifacts which will aid in battle. Knights will level up individually, providing you with beefier heroes for the overall battle. Choices made during these quests affect the morality of the kings' knights too, all of which will work to having an effect on your troops during those big battles.
So, how does it all come together and work out at the end of the day? First and foremost, for longtime Paradox fans, they'll notice that King Arthur II is very stripped down and flashier compared to many of their other games. A tutorial will take you by the hand through some of the game, and overall the learning curve is fairly good, so newcomers to the Paradox world shouldn't have much trouble getting behind the keys of King Arthur II.
Things also seemed pretty balanced. Unlike most RTS games where your heroes will do the chunk of the fighting, here the knights are major support, but nothing can be done without good army formation and strategy. The menu interface is fairly easy to navigate, and while graphics overall are fairly good, there are few details or unit representation. I often found my eyes lost, not knowing what unit was what, or who was who on the big battlefields. Luckily, the pause button helps to micro manage everything during RTS battles, but everything else outside of these battles is turn-based, using the four seasons (summer, winter, fall, and spring) as representations of turn phases.
While King Arthur II: The Role Playing Wargame isn't the perfect game, or even one of the best strategy games out there, it can catch you unawares and keep you entertained for hours on end. It might not be the prettiest, the best designed, or the smoothest-running, but it is solid at its heart, and it won't take a newcomer more than fifteen to twenty minutes to figure out what they need to be doing.
GameDynamo's Score for King Arthur II: The Role-Playing Wargame (PC)
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